Frances-Marie Uitti live on cello at BFFE 2019

danielle News

On Saturday evening Frances-Marie Uitti will play live on her cello before the Bhutanese movie The Red Phallus for which she composed some of the music.

‘The spectacularly gifted cellist Frances-Marie Uitti has made a career out of demolishing musical boundaries. She has developed new techniques (most famously, playing with two bows simultaneously), collaborated with a who’s who of contemporary composers, and pushed the cello into realms of unexpected beauty and expression.’ -Washington Post

Art in Focus: Shadow Circus

danielle Friday, Saturday, Sunday

VR Space

Continuous – free entrance

The installation Shadow Circus revisits an overlooked chapter in Tibet’s history: the armed struggle for freedom and its entanglement in global geopolitics through the CIA. Filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam researched the subject for many years and made a BBC-commissioned documentary – The Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet (1998) – that focused on the CIA’s support and betrayal of the Tibetan freedom fighters.

Shadow Circus re-evaluates the audiovisual material that they gathered over the years, and for the first time presents a re-edited version of their documentary, along with photographs, documents, letters, CIA surveillance maps of Tibet, and excerpts from interviews with former CIA agents and guerrilla operatives.

Filmmakers Ritu Sarin (India) and Tenzing Sonam (Tibet) have through their films and artistic work attempted to document and reflect on the questions of exile, identity, culture and nationalism that confront the Tibetan people. Their numerous documentary films, fiction films, and video installations have been shown at international film festivals, in exhibitions and on TV stations in Public Broadcasting.

Their film The Sweet Requiem is also shown at BFFE 2019, during the Special Event: Story of Tibet.

Photograph panorama of the Mustang Resistance Force, 1959 to late 1960s.

Rent and Grains

danielle Sunday

Sunday September 29th
Cinema 2

With closing ceremony, and shown together with the feature doc Visions of  a Teacher.

3 min, Bhutan, 2013
No language spoken
English text

Buy Tickets

An old woman sets out from her rural village in Bhutan to collect food. Suddenly she finds herself in a new world with high buildings and a lot of traffic. She returns home empty handed and confused. The film addresses the dichotomy between tradition and modernity, and nature conservation in Bhutan.

Director / Editor / Camera: Loday Chophel
With: Pema Chezon, Sanjish Kumar, Tandin, Sonam Tobgay
Music: Jigme Drukpa

Visions of a Teacher

danielle Sunday

Sunday September 29th
Cinema 2

With closing ceremony and shown together with the short film Rent and Grains.

58 min, India, 2019
Language spoken: Tibetan/English, with English subtitles.

Dutch premiere

Followed by a Q & A with director Jaap Verhoeven.

Buy Tickets

Khyentse Norbu, also known as Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche (1961) was recognized at the age of seven as a prominent incarnation in the Tibetan tradition. He is the spiritual leader of monasteries in Tibet, Bhutan and India. He also leads “84000”, the largest ever translation project of Buddhist texts.

In the West, he is best known as a film director, a.o. “The Cup”, his first feature that was awarded a Palme d’Or in Cannes. We now see him on the set in Nepal during the filming for his latest film “Looking for a Lady with Fangs and a Mustache”, where he effortlessly switches between working with the hip film crew and performing ancient Buddhist rituals.

Khyentse Norbu is aware of the challenges facing Buddhism today. What remains relevant of traditional forms of teaching and meditation? How does he see his role as a teacher in this age of interaction between cultures and demystification of gurus?

Khyentse Norbu shows in an almost magical way how prayers to the goddess Tara and the creation of films do not have to differ essentially from each other. Both have the potential to show us who we are.


Director / Camera / Sound: Jaap Verhoeven
With: Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Dudjom Yangsi Rinpoche, Huang Jing Rui, Jamyang Kunga Tenzin, John Canti, Mark Lee Ping Bing, Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche, Tigerboy Gyaltseng, and Tsering Tashi Gyaltsang.
Editor / Sound design: Jane Snijders
Music: Enaj
Commissioning editor: Laetitia Schoofs
Production: Aakaash Films, KRO-NCRV

Home Alone

danielle Sunday

Sunday September 29th
Cinema 2

Shown together with the feature doc Darkhan.

9 min, Bhutan, 2014
Language spoken: Dzongkha, with English subtitles.

Buy Tickets

Meme Tshering, a 95 years old man living alone in his place of birth in a remote village in Eastern Bhutan, reflects on his children leaving the village, a diminishing community. He also reflects on his life as a whole. Home Alone highlights the bitter truth and effects of rural-urban migration, the loss of vitality in rural areas and modernisation.

Director / Editor/ Camera: Loday Chophel
With: Meme Tshering
Music: Ata Yeshey, Jigme Drukpa


danielle Sunday

Sunday September 29th
Cinema 2

Shown together with the short film Home Alone.

Darkhan – Blacksmith

59 mins, USA, 2019
Languages spoken: Russian, Mongolian, Italian, English, with English subtitles.

Dutch premiere

Followed by a Q&A with the producer.

Buy Tickets

Documentary film about the world-famous sculptor and artist Dashi Namdakov. Written and directed by Guka Omarova (Schizo, Native Dancer) and produced by two-time Oscar nominated Russian filmmaker, Sergei Bodrov (Mongol), DARKHAN tells the remarkable, magical and inspiring story of a Buryat Buddhist (Dashi Namdakov) who as a boy was stricken with a life-threatening illness. He was healed by a local shaman and grew up to become a wildly talented and successful artist. About himself, Dashi says that he is only a link in a long chain of Darkhans, artisans whom Genghis Khan valued.

Dashi Namdakov







Director, writer: Guka Omarova
With: Dashi Namdakov, Sergei Bodrov
camera: Pavel Kostomarov, Irina Shatalova, Fedor Lyass, Sergey Amirdzhanov, Chris Walters, Sergey Stefanovich, Martin Gasch
Editor: Dasha Danilova
Music by: Tuomas Kantellinen, Sangidorj Choigiv Khuurch Altan Urag
Producers: Sergei Bodrov, Munkozhap Badmaev
Executive producers: Louis Ferrara, Anton Cherenkov
A Tengri Production in association with Saga Production

Rituals of Resistance

danielle Sunday

Sunday September 29th
Cinema 2

63 min
USA, 2018
English / Tibetan, with English subtitles.

Dutch premiere

Update: Rituals of Resistance won the “Emerging Director Feature Documentary” Film Award at the 42nd AAIFF in New York City. Congratulations!

Buy Tickets

Followed by a Q&A with directors and producers Tenzin Phuntsog and Joy Dietrich.
Tenzin Phuntsog will also give a presentation at the Special Event.

Tenzin Phuntsog & Joy Dietrich

“Rituals of Resistance” looks at the evolving generational responses by pacifist Tibetans under 65 years of Chinese occupation. Through first-hand oral accounts by three Tibetan exiles living in disparate parts of the world, the film traces the three paths of resistance from the active and the brutal, to the realm of the symbolic and sacrificial. The film creatively explores the history of resistance through each subject’s relation to the medium of their era.

After the Chinese invasion in 1950, a devout monk turns to violence and becomes a guerrilla leader, launching pinprick raids from his base in Nepal.

An immigrant mother in California, who follows the Dalai Lama’s Middle Path of nonviolence, defies Chinese border restrictions to reunite with her family after 30 years of separation.

A student-activist in India, who grew up under Chinese-controlled Tibet, turns to suicide protest.

Each individual grapples with his or her Buddhist beliefs at the face of national and political imperatives. Interspersed between the portraits, the Tibetan American director reflects on each mode of resistance as he wanders the American frontier that resembles his lost homeland.


Directors / Producers: Tenzin Phuntsog & Joy Dietrich
With: Tendar, Dolma & Lhakpa, Tenzin
Camera, editor: Tenzin Phuntsog
Producer, writer, editor: Joy Dietrich
Executive Producer: Eric Nyari
Original score Alex Zhang Hungtai
Post sound: Origin of Audio
Post Colour: Cineric Inc.
Production company: Ritual Works LLC
Language spoken: English / Tibetan
Subtitles: English

Special Event: Story of Tibet

danielle Sunday

Sunday September 29th
Cinema 1

Buy Tickets

Co-presented by ICT.

Part 1: Presentations by Tenzing Sonam & Ritu Sarin, and Tenzin Phuntsog

Moderator: Christa Meindersma

During this event filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam who through their films and artistic work document and reflect on the questions of exile, identity, culture and nationalism that confront the Tibetan people, will elaborate on their installation SHADOW CIRCUS.

Their numerous documentary films, fiction films, and video installations have been shown at international film festivals and in exhibitions and on TV stations in Public Broadcasting. They are this years Artists in Focus at BFFE.

Tenzin Phuntsog, whose film Rituals of Resistance will be shown immediately after this event, is an award-winning filmmaker and educator who teaches at Montana State University and currently is a 2019 Flaherty Film Fellow.

He will present a talk about his work as the founder of the Tibet Film Archive, where he works tirelessly on the preservation of rare archival films of Tibet. These restored films (36 titles and over 100 hours of material) have screened worldwide including at Cineteca di Bologna, Italy; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH; Metrograph, New York; MoMA, New York; National Gallery Singapore, and the Swedish Film Institute, Stockholm, Sweden. He is also an adviser for the Prince Claus Funds in Amsterdam.

Tickets for Rituals of Resistance:

Buy Tickets

The event concludes with the presentation of the film THE SWEET REQUIEM followed by a Q & A.

Part 2: The Sweet Requiem

film, 90 min
India, 2019
Language: Tibetan, with English subtitles.

Dutch premiere

Followed by a Q&A with Ritu Sarin & Tenzing Sonam.

Dolkar, a 26-year-old exile Tibetan, lives in Delhi. 18 years ago she escaped from Tibet with her father, making a perilous trek across the Himalayas that ended in tragedy. Dolkar has suppressed all recollection of that traumatic incident. But when she unexpectedly encounters Gompo, the guide who abandoned them during their journey, memories of her escape are reignited and she is propelled on an obsessive search for retribution and closure. Following Gompo through the claustrophobic alleys of the Tibetan refugee settlement in Delhi, Dolkar discovers that Gompo faces his own personal crisis. Flashbacks of her desperate journey with a small group through a harsh and desolate Himalayan terrain punctuate her growing predicament in the present.

Caught in a web of political intrigue that is much larger than her private quest, Dolkar must reconcile Gompo’s act of treachery with the life-or-death situation he now faces. The two stories moving in tandem, both determined by a series of fateful choices, reach their conclusion as Dolkar and Gompo finally confront each other.


Director, producer: Ritu Sarin
Director, Writer: Tenzing Sonam
With: Tenzin Dolker, Jampa Kalsang, Rabyoung Thonden Gyalkhang, Shavo Dorjee, Tenzin Dechen, Tenzin Phuntsok, Lhakpa Tsering, Tsetun Dolma
Producer: Shrihari Sathe
Camera: David McFarland
Production Designer: Aradhana Seth
Music: Michael Montes
Production company: White Crane Films / Dialectic

The Intelligence of Trees

danielle Sunday

The room in Eye Filmmuseum is changed to Cinema 1.

Sunday September 29th
Cinema 2

Followed by a Q&A

The Intelligence of Trees

80 min
France, 2017
French, with English subtitles

Dutch premiere

Buy Tickets

A German forester, Peter Wohlleben, has observed that where he comes from, trees communicate with one another, care with love for their young, their elders, and their neighbors in case of illness. He wrote the worldwide bestseller ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’ (over 2 million copies were sold) that filled nature lovers with wonder.

His assertions were confirmed by scientists from the University of British Columbia in Canada, who also appear in the film. This documentary reveals the meticulous and thrilling work of these scientists, which is essential in order to understand interactions among trees as well as the consequences of this discovery. This knowledge will change the way you look at life, trees and forests.

Panel on inter-being

25 min

The awareness of the significance of trees, and knowledge of how they function and their impact on their environment is increasing worldwide. In the West we are used to making a clear division between humans and nature, which in itself contributes to the present ecological crisis we find ourselves in. We often treat nature as a mere consumer article. Buddhism relies on the interdependence of all phenomena, and ‘interbeing’. Could this view of the world perhaps help with the development of a sustainable future?

Matthijs Schouten (professor at Wageningen University, author and philosopher of the Dutch Forestry Commission), will lead a discussion on the topic with Arita Baaijens (explorer and author), Jori Wolf (Dutch Forestry Commission), Thijs Middeldorp (Parlement van de Dingen), and Laura Burgers (researcher at University of Amsterdam in the field of rights for nature).

Trailer: The Intelligence of Trees

The Intelligence of Trees
Directors: Julia Dordel, Guido Tölke, Jan Roeloffs
With: Peter Wohlleben, Suzanne Simard, Teresa Ryan, Monika A. Gorzelak
Amanda Asay, Julia Amerongen Maddison
Camera: Tom Roeloffs, Florian Millot
Editor: Florian Millot
Production: Jupiter Communications
Music licensed at Media Music Now, Premium Beat